I started a garden when everything went quiet. It seemed like the obvious thing to do. The house had always wanted a garden- I had always wanted a garden- and now I had the time and incentive: food sovereignty suddenly felt like necessity, beyond idealism.
I started a garden and I watched the beast of my mind begin to wind it's obsessive tendrils around the project. Comparing raised beds. Researching the best seeds. Stepping outside a couple... a few... a dozen times a day to study sun & shade & wind.
I picked out my desired crops. Reasonable, practical choices; what do we eat? What might get harder to find? What do I trust myself to grow well, and what feels possible in this little urban outpost we have found?
The soil came. I ordered too much but thats fine. The beds were delayed. Delivery estimates seemed moot. My sleep began to strain under the whirring of my brain tracking optimal start dates. I couldn't wait any longer, the planting season was slipping by. I decided to start the seeds in empty egg cartons, feeling exquisite satisfaction at the opportunity to re-use.
Meticulously dropping tiny seeds into tiny holes, pausing to google insider tips on which plants like how many seeds per hole and what quality of soil will get me the best, mightiest shoots. I was going to do this right. I was going to do this RIGHT.
Egg cartons full of soil and seed, lined up on the porch railing. Watered daily. Nudged in and out of optimal sun spots through out the day. Waiting, waiting, resisting the urge to poke around. The beds still weren't in, Home Depot hotline was a blackhole of hold music. Maybe I'd gotten in over my head. Maybe this was a mistake.
Until one morning, stepping outside while I waited for the coffee to brew, I saw it- sprouts. Tiny green beings using all of their might to push sizable clumps of dirt out of the way so that they could stretch up and out. It was happening. It was WORKING. There was no turning back.
I planned, and prepared, and strategized, and mapped out every detail of this tiny garden-to-be. My partner watched, wide eyed; "I've never seen you like this."
"I'm moving into my danger zone," I warned, "please don't leave me".
This mind, this beast that I've carried around my whole life that locks onto a target, a destination, a project and once it has decided, flips every switch to ON.
So ON I stayed. Everything revolving around this. This garden is it. The garden is all.
Beds came, dirt in, new plants picked up and seedlings ready to go.
And then one evening in the perfect light of a setting sun (moving my hands over the dirt and settling things in just right) I was struck by the image of my paternal Grandfather, having come back from WWII with the memory of walking through concentration camps fresh in his mind...
...and his desire to start a garden.
I was slowed, for once in this process, by the vision of a plot of land meticulously cultivated by a man fresh home from war.
What do you do in the wake of such loss and grief and destruction that there are no true winners?
What do you do when you don't know what comes next?
I have not fought in battle as he did, but I've often felt my mind is his; over-active, hyper-vigilant, tracking & exacting to an excruciating end.
What do you do with a brain that is programmed to fight & survive? What do you do in a world gone mad?
It's a terrible mind and a wonderful mind, this brain I've inherited from Raymond. It can hold seemingly endless threads of possibility and pattern recognition, and it can also hold me hostage, binding & ensnaring me with those very same threads.
What do you do when the world's burnt down, and you've been sent home to try and create a new normal?
Raymond started a garden. Raymond made things grow.
My partner didn't leave. "You're crazy and I love you and I'm proud of you. I'm here to help."
I can be crazy and I can be loved. And I can make things, and I don't have to do it alone.
I started a garden. I made a thing when nothing else seemed sure.
My Grandfather and I are creating a garden. The rest of my ancestors are here as well. We are healing from our respective battles. We are tending and nurturing as a most rebellious act. We are composting the waste of our cultures and choosing to believe that there is still value and meaning in helping something grow.